Introduction and Definition

Dementia implies a loss of mental capacity; the individual who once functioned at a certain psychosocial level with certain cognitive abilities is now failing or behavioral problems have developed. The majority of dementias are idiopathic and are termed Alzheimer's disease (AD). The other large category is vascular dementia. However, many other disorders more treatable than Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia may also cause dementia or simulate dementia. The largely untreatable dementias are thus to a degree diagnoses of exclusion; the physician must take care that a treatable dementia is not being overlooked ( Table 221-6 and Table .2,21,-7).

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